October sees the beginning of the bluefish run; they start their run in early October and it continues deep into the fall's first cold weather. Having surf fished this run myself many times, I can personally attest that in some places, especially toward the middle and end of October, you barely have to put your hook in the water to catch one; that is most especially true for southern waters along the Atlantic coast. These oil, dark, rich fleshed fish have been prized native food for thousands of years. In the olden times, what wasn't eaten fresh, cook on wooden "grills," was dry smoked and saved for winter. Hickory trees (of which pecans are a member) are a family of trees that grow in the eastern woodlands in great abundance. Not only do they provide food in the form nuts, but the wood has a distinctive sweet aroma that provided the perfect wood to smoke over; this is especially true for smoking oily fish of all sorts (since the the bluefish eat herring, it is the herring that the bluefish actually follow, the herring run occurs at the same time as the bluefish run--herring are also excellent smoked over hickory). This recipe comes from E. Barrie Kavasch's (Chicamagua Cherokee/Powhaton/Mukogee Creek/English/German/Scotch-Irish) important seasonal Native American cookbook Enduring Harvests. The recipe assumes that you will purchase the bluefish already smoked, but if you are enterprising, you can smoke the fish yourself. This recipe is excellent with all manner of smoked fish, especially smoked trout; so use whatever kind of smoked fish that you like. As Ms. Kavasch suggests, if you are going to smoke your own fish, then slice some mushrooms and place around the edges of the smoker to dry for chips. Other good things that she suggests are pieces of squash or pumpkin (my note: these are actually great in stews!). If you want to actually fish for them, just be aware that they have a mouth of razor sharp teeth!
Hickory Smoked Bluefish Pate
1 tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
8 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel, at room temperature
2 oz. butter , at room temperature
2 tsp. grated horseradish
1 tsp. dill seed, crushed
1 tsp. fresh dill greens, finely chopped
2 oz. green onion (scallions) or wild onions, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a mixing bowl, break apart the fish with a fork; then one by one completely incorporate the next ingredients as listed.
2. Turn the finished mixture into glass or other pottery bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight (even better, keep for two days).
3. To serve, place the bowl on a large platter or in a large basket. Surround with mushroom chips (my note: which can be made in a low temp oven if you don't smoke your own fish), [good quality] corn chips and sprigs of fresh watercress and cilantro.
Note: this is also great on any type of cracker.
HAPPY HARVEST AND HALLOWEEN SEASON!